Innovative and Sophisticated Short-Term Residential Treatment for Pre-Teen and Teen Boys

Embark at The Forge is an innovative short-term residential treatment program (75 to 90 days) and school for teens and adolescent boys developed in response to the emotional and neurobiological needs of young men. Our residential treatment center in Tennessee combines the immersion of extraordinary outdoor experiences, daily functional fitness, empathetic and attuned individual and family counseling, and exceptional educational rigor to help build greatness. The program focuses the ability and willingness to engage in relationships is a key indicator of success. Outside of structured clinical hours, the boys have ample opportunity to engage with each other in a group setting to allow the opportunity for co-regulation and attunement.


If you are looking for a short-term residential program for pre-teen and teen girls, visit Embark at Hobble Creek or Embark at the Poconos

Tour Embark at The Forge

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An Adventure Rich Location that is Ideal for Pre-Teen and Teen Boy Healing and Growth

Residential care helps facilitate healing in a safe and controlled environment. Embark at The Forge works with families and within family systems. We understand that individuals and families heal best in-home environments filled with a sense of safety, nurturing, comfort, and well-being.

Our vast residential treatment center in Tennessee is located in the Mountains of Benton - only 45 minutes outside of Chattanooga; and surrounded by the East Tennessee Mountains on 55 acres with direct access to the Hiwassee River. With the world-class Ocoee only a short distance away there are many opportunities for water and outdoor sporting activities for your son, all under the direct supervision of our coaches.

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Insurance Reimbursement at Embark at The Forge

Short-term residential treatment at Embark at The Forge is frequently reimbursed by insurance plans. To determine if your insurance plan will cover the cost of inpatient care, contact our team or fill out our insurance verification form. We’ll work with your insurance company for free to help you understand your benefits. Let us help you demystify insurance coverage for short-term residential treatment.

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Embark at The Forge FAQ

In short-term residential treatment at Embark at The Forge, pre-teen and teen boys will live at our beautiful residential treatment center in Tennessee and participate in a schedule of activities centered around treating mental health conditions and healing. The benefit of short-term care at Embark at The Forge is that it is more affordable than long-term care, the shorter care we provide makes it easier for adolescents to jump back into life at home, and it is frequently reimbursed by insurance.

The main differences between short-term care at Embark at The Forge and inpatient treatment are the treatment environments and lengths of care. Our beautiful location in Benton provides pre-teens and teens with a home-like environment and a schedule that mirrors home life but has more therapy mixed in throughout the day. Inpatient treatment usually takes place in a hospital environment. Embark at The Forge also provides a longer treatment time in comparison to inpatient treatment, which can last around 30 days on average.

The length of treatment differs for each pre-teen and teen, but on average short-term treatment at Embark at The Forge lasts around 90 days.

People from all over the United States come to our residential treatment facility in Tennessee due to the intensive 24-hour care it can provide for a wide range of mental health and substance abuse issues. For pre-teens and teens boys who have educational needs, safety issues, lack of support at home, need intensive treatment after inpatient care or needed a more in-depth treatment option after outpatient treatment, treatment at Embark at The Forge can be a good option.

Our treatments are necessary when your pre-teen or teen’s mental health needs are too great for outpatient care, or when they are stepping down in treatment intensity, for example from an inpatient hospitalization program. Short-term residential treatment can also be a good option if someone feels unsafe at home, or for those who are trying to break out of a negative daily routine.

You should bring a variety of clothing appropriate for the Tennessee weather, such as activewear, pajamas, a variety of footwear (tennis shoes, crocs, trail runners), jackets, rain jackets, sweaters, and everyday clothing. Other items you can bring to Embark at The Forge include weighted blankets, comforters, and non-smart sports watches.  

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Short-Term Residential Treatment in Tennessee and Across the Country

Embark at The Forge is proud to offer short-term residential treatment in Tennessee and across the country. We provide a unique developmental framework that allows us to heal and strengthen the functional, mental, and physical strength of your child alongside other adolescents that come from many different backgrounds and upbringings. Our peaceful, therapeutic environment in the mountains of Tennessee and high standards of treatment provides the perfect environment for your child to work alongside other pre-teens and teens from all over the United States to overcome difficult mental health issues.

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We Are Experts in How to Motivate, Fascinate, and Co-Regulate the Pre-Teen and Teen Male Brain

At Embark at The Forge, we are not only preparing our students for the road ahead cognitively, physically, and emotionally, but also taking into consideration their overall sense of being. Relaxation skills for decompression are essential for teens to self-regulate. This holistic educational experience with tactile and engaging life skills will help facilitate a deeper understanding of each student’s core sense of self and initiate positive behavioral change. Our goal is to inspire a new confidence and way of being through a shift in the lens of how our students learn. We illuminate a better way to educate young men and forge the path for mighty leadership to be formed.

Embark at The Forge offers sophisticated mental health treatment and care:

  • Insurance funded
  • Full-time Child & Adolescent Psychiatry on-site with over 22 years of experience
  • Tailored evidenced-based interventions and therapies
  • Holistic nutrition education; chef-prepared cuisine
  • 10 hours of group therapy weekly
  • Individualized 2 hr individual and family therapy weekly
  • Personalized academic assessment and credit recovery
  • Daily functional fitness
  • Adventure therapy activities weekly
  • Psychiatric medication review
  • Psychological/educational evaluation
  • Family systems assessment

Start your healing journey

Call or fill out the contact form below.

Phone: 866-727-3870

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  • (*) Age limits vary by services.

  • Wondering what happens with your information?

    IMPORTANT: We take your confidentiality seriously, and we strictly abide by HIPAA regulations and use the information you provide on this web form to find the right program for your loved one. We do not use your information for anything other than placement. Thank you for your interest in Embark. For more information, please see our privacy policy.

Embark at The Forge

5842 TN-30

Benton, TN 37307

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Why choose Short Term Residential Treatment at Embark at The Forge?

It has become clear that pre-teen and teen boys cannot thrive in today’s environment that is dominated by technology, neurotoxic food, and an often sedentary lifestyle. Single-gender treatment is important. With that in mind, there are no teen girl students on our campus. The program is fully focused on serving the unique needs of pre-teen and teen boys. Ensuring the short-term safety of your son, while gaining traction for his long-term health, is the goal of our program.

Our program uses the healing power of the outdoors to create room for your son to reconnect with his body and emotions, while fueling him with nutrition that reduces inflammation and helps his brain integrate the therapeutic work he will do. Daily functional fitness and adventure therapy engage the hands-on, tactile nature of your son so that he internalizes training which builds confidence and self-esteem. In-depth clinical assessment helps us create an environment for your son and family to stabilize, reset, and confidently move forward on his treatment journey with a clear understanding of the strengths and challenges at play.

We work with teens and adolescent boys, that are struggling with anxiety, depression, social challenges, and learning differences. The range of stay for our short-term residential program is on average 90 days.

Call us any time, we would love to be of service.

Daily Schedule Highlights

Embark at The Forge is a highly specialized residential treatment program specifically designed to meet the neurobiological needs of teens and adolescent boys.  Here, we work with families and within family systems. Our residential center's Tennessee location was designed knowing that individuals and families heal best in home environments filled with a sense of safety, nurturing, comfort, and well-being. Embark at The Forge was designed with you in mind, because you matter, because you have inherent worth and value, and so that your engagement in the world is noticed and affirmed. As you engage in the world, as you engage in the process of healing, there will be times when you will fall apart. Because you matter, we will pull you through those difficult times; you will not be alone.


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Meet The Team

Josh Nordean 1

Josh Nordean

Position: Clinical Director
Josh Nordean joins The Forge School as the Clinical Director after serving at Calo since 2016 as a therapist, Program Director and Director of Clinical Services. Since 2001, Josh has worked with young men and their families in a variety of settings as a teacher, coach, youth pastor, case manager, crisis intervention specialist and therapist. Josh graduated summa cum laude from Oklahoma State University with an M.S. in Community Counseling. Josh has a heart for providing a CASA experience for young men and their families and serving as a mentor on the road towards healthy manhood. Through his years of experience working with boys from a variety of socioeconomic, racial and cultural backgrounds, Josh has come to believe that boys need specific mentors and role models to show them how to harness and focus their strength into productive rather than destructive ventures. He is excited to be a part of the team at the Forge School who aim to set a new standard in boy specific treatment. When not working, Josh enjoys anything related to sports and being outdoors and loves spending time with his wife, three sons and two boxers. contact: [email protected]
Josh Nordean 1

Josh Nordean

Clinical Director
Dr. Cassandra Simms 1

Dr. Cassandra Simms

Position: Clinical Psychiatrist
Dr. Cassandra Simms is board certified in Adult and Child/Adolescent Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Simms received her medical degree from the University of Kentucky in 1999. She completed her Psychiatry Residency and Child/Adolescent Fellowship at the University of South Carolina. During her residency, she served on the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, Residency Selection Committee, and was chosen to be Chief Resident for the Child & Adolescent Fellowship Program. In May 2004, Dr. Simms moved to Chattanooga Tennessee with her family where she started her professional career with Focus Psychiatric Services, Inc. and Parkridge Valley Hospital treating children and adolescents in an outpatient and inpatient setting until August 2012. In August 2012, Dr. Simms took a position with Community Health Systems via Skyridge Medical Center now known as Tennova Healthcare in Cleveland Tennessee. She provided outpatient care to adults and children at Behavioral Health of Cleveland and inpatient care to adults at Pineridge Treatment Center (Tennova Behavioral Health) via acute hospitalization, inpatient consultation and intensive outpatient programs until August 2015. It was in August 2015, Dr. Simms transitioned to her outpatient private practice as a co-owner of Comprehensive Psychiatric Care, PLLC in Chattanooga Tennessee. She has been joined by several therapists and a Nurse Practitioner to provide services to our beloved community. Dr. Simms collaborates with Healthconnect of America to provide supervision to nurse practitioners in the surrounding area and with Allied Behavioral Services, Inc. to provide consistent medication management services to their clients. In November 2020 while continuing her outpatient services, Dr. Simms was thrilled to join the Embark Behavioral Health’s newest program, The Forge School, a behavioral residential treatment center for boys in Benton Tennessee. She will serve as the Psychiatric Service Director to oversee and provide the psychiatric care to the residents referred to the facility. During her 17 years as a provider, Dr. Simms has also found a passion for teaching students through her clinical experiences. In 2009, Dr. Simms became a faculty member with the University of Tennessee School of Medicine where she briefly served as preceptor for medical students for a portion of their psychiatry rotation. In 2012, Dr. Simms contracted with Lincoln Memorial University’s Physician Assistant program providing their behavioral health clinical experience. Dr. Simms hopes through her current clinical experiences that she can continue to educate upcoming providers and provide them with a thorough clinical psychiatric experience. This is with the hope to make upcoming providers aware of the need for good psychiatric care in our communities and to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
Dr. Cassandra Simms 1

Dr. Cassandra Simms

Clinical Psychiatrist
Abby Jones Residential Director at Embark at The Forge

Abby Jones

Position: Residential Director
Email: [email protected]
Residential Director, Abby Jones, manages all aspects of the milieu with a smile. She graduated from Auburn University with her master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies and is currently pursuing a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy. Abby is honored to have the opportunity to help teens and their families heal and move forward with a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. Abby has served in the clinical department since the Forge opened in 2020 and was promoted to Assistant Clinical Director in early 2021. Abby has a long history of excellence in leading and developing teams as well as developing processes and structures. She brings these skills to the Residential Department alongside her steady and secure therapeutic relationships with the boys.
Abby Jones Residential Director at Embark at The Forge

Abby Jones

Residential Director
Kristen Thompson Admission Consultant at Embark at The Forge

Kristen Thompson

Position: Admissions Director
Email: [email protected]
Kristen Thompson joined Embark at The Forge in February of 2021. She has a foundation in purpose-driven work. Her background includes experienced work as a Marketing Coordinator with a demonstrated history of working in both print and digital media, and social media marketing. In addition, Kristen has been working with children in and out of the school system for nearly a decade. She has a longstanding education in Cultural Studies, and it is the combination of these varying backgrounds which led her to her current role at The Forge. As the Admissions Consultant, she has the integral opportunity of supporting families through the emotional road of finding the right care for their child. Within this role comes marketing and meaningful content development. Providing a consistent and clear message to educate families is organic to this process. She believes the best way to approach life is to show up with an open mindset and she structures this into her engagement with the families that Embark at The Forge supports.
Kristen Thompson Admission Consultant at Embark at The Forge

Kristen Thompson

Admissions Director
Chris Johstoneaux Executive Director at short-term residential program Embark at The Forge

Chris Johstoneaux

Position: Executive Director
Chris has 22 years of experience working with adolescents in residential treatment, therapeutic and boarding school settings. Having worked as a Therapist, Administrator and Program Staff, Chris specializes in building appropriate relationships with students and families and the clinical assessment and treatment of a wide variety of therapeutic challenges. Chris has consistently and successfully worked with students, parents and professionals to support families and change lives. Chris earned his Masters Degree in Social Work at the University of Utah, and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker is several states. When Chris is not working, he and his wife are busy with their five boys. He is an avid sports fan and is often found enjoying the outdoors and watching soccer.
Chris Johstoneaux Executive Director at short-term residential program Embark at The Forge

Chris Johstoneaux

Executive Director

Embark at The Forge Reviews

Embark at the Forge
Based on 27 reviews
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Kelly HardKelly Hard
17:06 06 Sep 22
The Forge is the third program my son has attended and the one that seems to have really gotten him engaged and on a different path. We wanted a program that offered multiple therapy types with group, adventure, individual, etc. and where when mistakes were made they worked through them productively, empathetically and as learning experiences without harsh discipline. My son's individual therapist is incredible and has helped our family learn how to operate better and support each other in co-parenting as we are divorced. The coaches and staff were fantastic and really worked with us as a family to make the best of a difficult situation, and I can even say there were some fun moments along the way. Food, accommodations, visitation policy, etc. all top notch. I am very grateful my son was able to be a part of this program.
Michael SwisherMichael Swisher
18:25 24 Jul 22
We could not recommend this place any more highly. The level of professionalism and organization is impeccable and the staff is warm, welcoming, and supportive. They provided top notch support and therapy to our teen and to us as parents as well. Four weeks out and things continue in a positive direction, thanks to Josh Nordean and the rest of the staff there.Their therapeutic model is superb and provides a level of consistency across and between staff and also gives us a guide for our interactions at home. And the mix of group, individual work AND outdoor activities is a highly effective way to engage young men who struggle with so many things.Food was apparently excellent, with the cook even preparing our teen’s favorites on request (empanadas - thank you!). Our teen still drools thinking of the meals there.THANK YOU!
Johanna CollinsJohanna Collins
23:00 21 May 22
We sent our son to Embark at The Forge and were sure from the beginning to the end that it was the right choice and quite frankly the best choice we could’ve made. We scoured the internet and talked with providers for/about any short term residential places. We often stopped our search at reviews, finding bad reviews to other places that contradicted their websites.The Forge is what it says it is and its awesome!I didn’t worry with him there because I knew he was receiving such extraordinary care! I would recommend The Forge to everyone!The staff is committed to caring. Experienced and well equipped to work with adolescents,they create an atmosphere of dynamic inclusion amongst the kids, making their time away from home more like a summer camp experience than a mental health intensive. Their care is intentional and appropriately intense, however, including effective daily group therapy, regular basketball fun, opportunities to take it all out on the punching bags, hikes in the beautiful environs and times of respite in the bamboo forest. Our son wasn’t even that into sports or outdoor experiences before his time in TN! But he embraced those things at The Forge through the positive influence of the staff and the through the comraderie of his fellow residents.He struggled quite a bit while there as his symptoms continued and sometimes worsened. The medical and psychiatry staff exhibited genuine concern and compassion. I felt like they loved him as their own. They worked with him carefully on medication adjustments and listened to him. His counselor and other staff stayed by him, sat with him, engaged gently and encouragingly, accepting him most on his toughest days.And when we went to pick him up after our insurance ran it’s course, he sat with us, the staff and the other boys for a ceremony in which everyone shared their encouragement for him and what positive things they saw in him.I saw that he had actually found a space in which he could experience what it felt like to thrive. I felt like I had my son back, out of the shadow of the sickness under which he’d been suffering for so long.Home now for almost four months he is doing much much better than when he entered The Forge experience. He continues to mine his lessons there and to apply the mantras and themes he learned. It definitely left a lasting, positive impression on him and we are so very very thankful!Thank you everyone: Kristen, Mike, Abby, Josh, Andrew, Natalie, Stue, Cassandra and the myriad of other staff! You have helped to make a huge difference and have changed our son’s life! We are forever indebted to you!!!
Mike MaetzMike Maetz
19:21 28 Sep 21
My wife and I found The Forge when we were searching for a short-term residential facility for our teenage son. I cannot say enough wonderful things about their entire staff! Due to multiple circumstances (mainly due to the specific care our son needed) we ended up placing him in a different facility in another state. They are caring and passionate about providing the RIGHT care for the young men in their care. They have a beautiful, welcoming campus that is a site to behold. I would not hesitate for a second to entrust any of my family members in their care.
Jenny RobertsonJenny Robertson
20:06 24 Aug 21
I don’t think I can thank the people at the Forge School enough for all that they have done for our son. We have struggled for years to find an organization and people who truly loved what they did and put together such a good program. When we arrived from out of state to drop off our son, it felt like being greeted by family, Forge staff members were outside and there to welcome us. I was very nervous about leaving my only son in TN, but after meeting everyone there that day, I knew we had made the right decision. Our son suffered from trauma in his earlier life, yet it was never fully addressed. The Forge School used advanced therapies such as brain spotting that were life changing for our son. The staff there were always kind and responsive. We had regular family therapy and always were given detailed updates on how our son was doing. Upon our son returning home things have been significantly better. The outbursts have all but stopped and he is much more responsible, respectful and has much better self-esteem. Their psychiatrist is one of the best! She was able to adjust his medications, so that they worked to help him, both at school and at home. I found it incredibly difficult to find a place to help our son. He needed help emotionally and so many places seemed to focus on rehabilitation which was not an issue with our son. He’s happy now and so are we, that’s all we’ve ever wanted! Thank you to everyone at The Forge School, we will be forever grateful for all that you have done for our son!
Trent HardinTrent Hardin
20:07 20 Aug 21
Our experience at The Forge School was above and beyond anything we expected. They have created a safe, caring environment for young men to grow through compassion, empathy, and firm boundaries. Communication was always on point. We never felt uninformed. The staff is absolutely phenomenal. It was clear to us that they truly care about every young man there. Counseling and family therapy using the CASA Model taught us as much as it taught our son. I could go on for hours... Bottom line, I would recommend anyone I know, and any family member who is at a crossroads with their teenage boy to not hesitate for one second, and send their struggling young man to The Forge School.
Ryan HoganRyan Hogan
16:14 12 Sep 20
The Forge School has all the elements to bring healing and restoration to young men in need. The leadership of Joe Barnard is what brings all of the elements together. I got to know Joe during his selfless service to our country while he was stationed at Moody Air Force Base. He has the character, passion, and determination to lead young men at the Forge School to become productive and contributing members of society. I could not recommend the Forge School more highly for families that are needing a place for a young man whose path needs realignment.Ryan M. Hogan, M. Ed.Director of AdmissionsValdosta State University

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